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NightWatch 20110802

NightWatch

For the Night of 2 August 2011

Japan-China: For the record. A Defense Ministry 2011 white paper report said that Chinese military maritime activities need attention, especially Chinese naval vessel operations near Japan and the development of facilities to serve as bases for these activities.

The report said China's future actions are worrisome and heavy-handed and could lead to clashes with Japan and other neighboring countries. Japan is increasing its submarine fleet and strengthening its troops and radar capabilities along its southwestern shores.

Comment: Aside from the obvious lobbying issues that accompany all defense white papers, Chinese maritime economic and naval behavior threatens Japanese and Allied interests as well as those of Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

One point worth noting is that Japan is experiencing Chinese naval provocations similar to those experienced by Southeast Asian nations. That creates a basis for coordinated regional countermeasures. Adding Indian Naval interest in containing China's navy, a very large and powerful East, South and Southeast Asian naval defensive coalition is achievable and already is quietly in the process of formation. It would be far more powerful than the Chinese navy.

North Korea: Comment: Several media including the Associated Press have treated as breaking news the North Korean development and manufacture of the Musudan medium or intermediate range ballistic missile. This is not new and it is not news.

North Korea has had this missile for more than ten years, having obtained the technology from Russia. It is a North Korean adaptation and modification of a Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile. The missile is a nuclear warhead carrier and the most tested missile in the Soviet arsenal, by some accounts. It is far superior to anything cobbled together by the North Koreans in their compulsive effort to exploit SCUD short range ballistic missile technology.

North Korea has fielded Musudan missiles in three separate launch brigades. Launches from any of the brigades can reach all of Japan and Guam. A brigade of these missiles also has been sold to Iran some years ago. They can reach Israel from Iran, easily.

The point is that this is an existing potential threat, not something that is being developed, not yet operational and potentially stoppable. The Musudan, far more than the NoDong/Ghauri/Shahab III or the TaepoDong II , is a war fighting system that is tested, proven and works. It is fully operational and field based. The news reporters failed to do due diligence research and are naively manipulated.

The timing of the recent news reports about this system, however, appear aimed at slowing or undermining progress in North Korean nuclear talks with the US. The leakers need not worry. North Korea may be relied on to scuttle talks after it learns that the US has few real incentives, limited flexibility and less aid to offer North Korea.

China-US: Agence France-Presse reported that a Chinese credit rating agency downgraded US bonds to A from A+ with a negative outlook, after already having downgraded them from AAA six months ago.

Economic analysts say that no Asian investors pay much attention to the Chinese credit rating agency, but do note that it's chairman is a paid adviser to China's government.

Comment: The western notion of companies that are independent from the Chinese government is alien to China, despite the trappings of western capitalism. Thus, when a Chinese credit agency downgrades US bonds, prudence and some insight into Chinese political culture command that US investors consider the agency's action a message from the Chinese government. The Chinese apparently intend to seek higher interest rates for purchasing US debt, according to their rules.

In that connection, a Xinhua editorial said the US had failed to defuse its "debt bomb."

China-India: A Foreign Ministry spokesman told the press today, "With the guarantee of the Chinese government, China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA) submitted an application to the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in May 2010 to explore multimetal sulfides. ISA approved the application in July this year, giving SOA the right to explore mineral resources in a 10,000-km area under the international waters in southwest Indian Ocean."

According to regulations, SOA will sign a contract with ISA and during the period when the contract is valid SOA has the exclusive right to explore multimetal sulfides in the aforementioned mining area and will have priority to mine the resources in the future.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, international seabed resources are common assets that humankind has inherited. China's explorations of resources under international waters are conducive to understanding and exploiting international seabed resources, improving China's deep-sea science knowledge, protecting seabed environment and serving the common interests of humankind as a whole.

Comment: The statement above hit India like an atomic bomb because Indian authorities were unaware of China's application to mine in the Indian Ocean.

India-China: The Indian Express newspaper reported on 1 August that China's application for a deep-sea mining license in the "central Indian Ocean" has been cleared by an international body, leaving the Indian Ministries of Defence and External Affairs concerned. They fear Beijing may use it as "an excuse to operate their warships in this area".

It was on 19 July that the International Seabed Authority cleared China's request for exploration and mining licenses in Southwestern Indian Ridge.

The Directorate of Naval Intelligence (DNI) has warned that this could have critical implications for India as the "Chinese would have reasons to maintain a continuous presence in the region….It would provide them an opportunity to collect oceanographic and hydrological data in a legitimate manner. Further, it would also provide an excuse to operate their warships in this area," according to the DNI.

Comment: The Indian diplomatic and intelligence services failed in this instance. China claims that it is only trying to meet a growing demand for minerals. The Indian Navy is concerned that Chinese naval ships will maintain a continuous watch of India under the guise of protecting ocean bed exploration, as China is doing in the South China Sea. The Indian government are stunned and consider this an intelligence/diplomatic failure.

China's state-run China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development had applied for the license in May 2010 to explore for polymetallic sulphides in the Southwest Indian Ridge. It is now required to sign a contract with the ISA, allowing it to explore up to 10,000 sq. km. over the next 15 years in line with the new rules on polymetallic sulphides adopted by the ISA last year.

China, which ratified the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and is an ISA member, has been active in deep sea exploration since 2002 when it launched a program that included developing an active diving submersible, 'The Jiaolong', designed for a maximum depth of 7,000 meters. The Jiaolong is currently diving at a site between Hawaii and the North America mainland, where China was granted rights to explore for minerals in 2001. It will head for the Indian Ocean before long.

Pakistan: Geo News TV reported on 2 August, that the Frontier Constabulary (FC) have been given police powers in Karachi along with the Rangers. Both have been directed to take action in troubled areas.

Comment: The Pakistan Rangers are a longstanding paramilitary force with police arrest authority in Karachi and Sindh Province. They are known for their brutality from multiple deployments. The Frontier Constabulary has similar authority in the frontier regions, but not in Sindh until now.

These decisions were taken during a meeting on the law and order situation in the city held at the Chief Minister's House and chaired by Sindh Province Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik. A statement issued after the meeting read that the Rangers and police had been directed to take immediate action against "miscreants" and this action would continue until these elements were eliminated.

Inspector General of Police Sindh Wajid Ali Durrani told the meeting that the police have so far arrested 91 alleged target killers who have confessed of killing about 161 people. He said more arrests are also on the cards and investigators of hopeful of extracting useful information from them to nab the criminal networks involved in the Karachi carnage.

Iran-Saudi Arabia: A strong relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia concerns some Western countries, Iranian lawmaker Hossein Sobhani-Nia said, Mehr news agency reported 2 August. Iran's ties with regional countries, especially Saudi Arabia, will benefit Muslim countries and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, he said.

The United States and other Western countries are interfering in the region and are trying to weaken those relationships, Sobhani-Nia said. Saudi Arabia made a mistake in sending troops to Bahrain to restrain pro-democracy protesters, and Riyadh should withdraw its troops from the country soon, he added.

Comment: The notion of a strong relationship between a Shiite and a Sunni state is laughable in its own right. The assertion that there is a strong relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia is a lie. The Iranians live in their own version of reality and seem to believe it.

Libya: Update. The rebel authorities arrested the murderer of Major General Younis, as the perpetrator fled in the direction of Egypt, according to Qadhafi's news media!

End of NightWatch for 2 August.

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